Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to one day in Belgrade, Serbia. On our last 24 hours in Belgrade, we went exploring the city on our own. Today we’ll have a little assistance with the help of a friendly local. We’re going explore the hidden nooks and crannies of Belgrade, see the largest Orthodox church you have probably ever been to, find the most cutting edge art, and dine al fresco. Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s exactly good enough to be true.
One Day in Belgrade
Where to Stay?
I highly recommend the Envoy Hotel in Belgrade for your one day in Belgrade. It is a luxury hotel at mid-range prices. The location right in the center of Belgrade couldn’t be more convenient, the staff was extremely helpful and spoke perfect English, and the breakfast spread every morning was to die for. Even the breakfast meats were amazing! (As we will see, meat is a big theme in Serbia.)
One Day in Belgrade
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today on our one day in Belgrade. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
Serbia is hot in the summer, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, if you’re American, you need a universal adapter if you’re going to plug in electronics. European electrical outlets don’t work with American plugs. I suggest the NEWVANGA travel adapter. It’s usable with any electrical outlet in the world, so you won’t need to keep buying new adapters. I always carry two with me, just in case something happens to one.
One Day in Belgrade
Morning: Self Guided Walking Tour
Belgrade is such a fascinating city that you should definitely be able to spend half the day exploring randomly and still not run out of fun things to do. I’ll get you started with…
Approximately Top 5: One Day in Belgrade
1) ? Tavern
Let’s start our morning the healthy way with some booze! That light brown liquid you see in the glass above is rakia, which is a fruit brandy you can find all over the Balkans. Each Balkan country claims to have the best, so the only solution is to drink rakia in every country and see which you prefer.
Of course we don’t want to fall asleep, so I paired the rakia with a strong Turkish coffee and a little Turkish delight candy. Serbia was once part of the Ottoman Empire, and Turkish-style coffee is still very popular there. But the best part of this breakfast was the restaurant itself! ? Tavern is the oldest restaurant in Belgrade. Supposedly it got its name because it is across the street from the cathedral, so it wasn’t allowed to serve alcohol. That’s why they needed to keep their name hidden. (My fellow Americans, do not worry. This tavern has NOTHING to do with QAnon.)
2) Princess Ljubica’s Residence
Historical house museums are some of the most fascinating cultural attractions in the world. It’s like you get your own personal DeLorean to travel back through time and see how the dead lived. Plus the homes are more beautiful than most homes you get to visit under ordinary circs, so it’s also like getting to take a stroll through the pages of Architectural Digest. The Princess Ljubica’s Residence is just such a museum.
Princess Ljubica was the wife of a Prince of Serbia during the 19th century. She was apparently not very attractive and had a mustache, but she got to be a Serbian princess and I never have, so who am I to judge? My favorite thing about this house is that you can see how Serbia transitioned from the Turkish style to the Austro-Hungarian style just by walking through the rooms. One of these rooms is Turkish…
And one is Austro-Hungarian…
Can you tell which is which? Of course you can! You’re a clever Internet Stranger!
3) National Bank of Serbia
This seems like a strange place to visit on a walking tour. Is any bank that different from any other bank? But the National Bank of Serbia is kind of like a little museum as well as a bank. Serbia has been part of so many different countries, so if you’ve ever wanted to get your eyes on some sweet Yugoslavian currency here is your chance.
But I definitely recommend visiting this bank because you’ll get a special treat. They take a photo of you and print your face on a (fake) Serbian bill. So now I can go around telling people I’m the Princess of Serbia or something. I’m pretty sure most Americans don’t even know who the real Princess of Serbia is…
4) Bajloni Market
Are you getting hungry, Internet Stranger? A rakia and very strong coffee not enough food for the entire day? Then you’ll be pleased to know we’re stopping at Bajloni Market, which is about 100 years old. While my food above might look a little strange, rest assured that it is one of the scrummiest things I have ever put in my mouth. The Serbs are world-renowned for their prowess with meat and this stuff is called tobacco and is sort of like pulled pork. I prefer to call it Meat Cotton Candy. Ron Swanson would go nuts for this stuff.
But if you don’t eat meat, you can still enjoy some fine white cheeses! Look at how fresh they are! You can practically hear them mooing. MOOOOOOO!
My favorite fun fact is that according to Marina, Robert de Niro worked at this market when he was a young man spending some time in Serbia. (This was definitely pre-Godfather II.) He even named his daughter Drena after the river that runs in between Serbia and Bosnia.
Every city needs a fun Bohemian District. Paris has Montmartre and my hometown NYC has Greenwich Village. (I happen to live in Greenwich Village and if you email me to tell me the real Bohemian District of NYC is Williamsburg, I will ban you from this website.) In Belgrade, the Bohemians live it up in Skadarlija.
It’s got everything a good Bohemian District needs: cobblestones, places to drink outdoors, and ME! What more can you ask for? We stopped here for a beer and some chitchat, and I recommend you do the same.
One Day in Belgrade Itinerary
Afternoon: Explore the Beauty of Belgrade
I have literally never seen Belgrade on a list of most beautiful cities in the world. But that doesn’t mean it’s unpretty! There are plenty of gorgeous spots in Serbia’s capital if you know where to look. I encourage you to spend some time after the tour is over exploring Belgrade on your own without a set itinerary so you can find your own charming treasures. It will make your one day in Belgrade even more memorable. But I will be happy to get you started with…
Three Fun Facts: Beautiful Belgrade
1) What is this building?
This, my Internet Stranger, is the Hotel Moskva, and it’s one of the most interesting buildings in Belgrade. This hotel was built over 100 years ago, so it’s impressive it’s lasted this long. It is built in a Russian style, which you can probably tell from the name of the hotel. (Moskva is Russian for Moscow.) According to the hotel website, the Moskva has lasted through eight different “state systems”, which is pretty remarkable. I guess the one thing the governments of Yugoslavia, Austria-Hungary, and Serbia can all agree on is that this is a lovely building.
2) OK, so what about this building?
This is the St. Sava Church–the largest Orthodox church in Serbia. Along with Belgrade Fortress, it’s one of the main symbols of the city. I’m not really sure you can say you’ve been to Belgrade unless you go here. It’s fairly recent as churches go–less than 100 years old, and it’s kept in amazing shape. There are about 18 gold crosses on the domes and they all twinkle like perfect little golden bats. I wonder whose job it is to shine the golden crosses of St Sava? I hope it went to someone who doesn’t have vertigo.
And we haven’t even gotten to the golden basement! This basement is way more impressive than the one in my apartment building which is just home to abandoned furniture and rats. St Sava was being renovated when I visited, but I still got to see the basement even though I couldn’t peruse the wonders of the entire interior of the church. As a bonus, it’s completely free to see all this gold! You will not even have to hand over the money you got at the National Bank with your picture on it.
3) Oh, so we’re moving to museums now?
Well, sort of! I think we’ve got too much going on during this itinerary to include a full-sized museum. But there’s definitely enough time for a smaller place like the Zepter Museum! This museum is dedicated to contemporary Serbian art–from the mid-20th century to the present. There are Serbian artists with an international reputation these days, like Marina Abramovic, but if you want to expand your horizons and meet some other Serbian artists, this is the place to do it!
24 Hour Treasure
My favorite piece was the Room of Books, shown above, which was a collaboration between multiple artists. Are books works of art all by themselves or do we have to do something to a book and hang it in a museum to make it art? Also I have to wonder if the artists chose books they really loved or really hated to cut into pieces and throw paint all over.
Also the Zepter Museum is located in a former bank so I appreciated they put up a statue of the former owner of the bank, Scrooge McDuck.
One Day in Belgrade Itinerary
Evening: Dinner at Bistro Jazz Cafe
Belgrade has an excellent cafe/outdoor dining culture in the summer, so you should definitely take advantage while you are there. I recommend the Bistro Jazz Cafe, which has a charming location, perfect for people watching. Apple cocktails seemed to be all the rage in Belgrade when I was there, so I started with a Appletini that made me feel like I was starring in Sex and the City if that show took place in Belgrade and was just about one woman instead of four friends.
And this is still Serbia, so you can’t go wrong with meat! That’s not mayonnaise or butter on the side of the sausages, it’s kajmac, which is a fresh Serbian cheese. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with it, so I just slathered it on both the sausages and fries. I suggest doing the same, even if it turns out to be “technically wrong”.
That’s a Perfect One Day in Belgrade Itinerary!
What would you do on a one day in Belgrade itinerary? Have I committed a hideous crime by putting kajmac on fries? And did you know that Scrooge McDuck owned banks in Serbia? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend one day in Belgrade.